What can I say? If you like Lord of the Rings, or anything vaguely quaint and a bit magical, you will love the Hobbiton movie set in New Zealand. I’m not going to lie, the tour wasn’t cheap at $79 each, and was only a couple of hours long, but we still absolutely loved it. To visit the set, you must book onto a guided tour, which gives you a coach journey through the surrounding farmland and then a fully guided walking tour around the actual set.
The tour guides are really knowledgeable and we learnt a lot during our tour. Did you know that Peter Jackson flew over the North Island of New Zealand in a helicopter looking for the perfect space to film? Apparently he was looking for sprawling fields with a lake or pond and a large central tree. When he saw the Alexander’s family farm during his search in 1998, he deemed it “like a slice of ancient England”, and said that it would be the perfect location for Hobbiton.
I loved these little windows which looked as though they had been carved directly into the hill. Look at that little net curtain – so cute!
Building and Reconstruction
The hobbit holes were initially built out of cheap materials such as polystyrene and plywood, and weren’t intended to be permanent structures. However, the holes were rebuilt for the Hobbit movie in 2009, and when the team realised the demand from the public to see the Hobbiton set in real life, and the appetite for tours, the site was rebuilt and maintained in a more permanent fashion.
I’m not sure why we don’t have more actual houses built like this in the real world…
The scarecrow is so adorable – wouldn’t it be amazing to work as a gardener here??
Peter Jackson wanted an oak tree overlooking Hobbiton and needed it to appear green year round for filming. As the team imported a tree from Matamata and planted it above Bag End, they had to make it appear as if it were a living, healthy tree permanently. To do this, they took these artificial green leaves and painstakingly wired them onto the tree one by one.
The moss you see on this post, and all round the set? It’s artificial! Jackson paid someone to stick gum paste to the wooden elements of the set and then sculpt and paint it to make it appear like real moss. Talk about attention to detail! I would never have guessed that it wasn’t real if our guide hadn’t pointed it out.
Jackson also paid someone to tread a path from a hobbit hole to a washing line, through the grass, every day for several weeks. This way, a natural path would be carved into the ground to prevent any questions on how the washing had been hung for years with no path being trampled into the grass.
The infamous Bag End. Apparently Jackson has taken the original home as a retirement investment, so this is a replica, and it has no interior. Admittedly I was a little bit gutted that I couldn’t go in and cosy up by Bilbo’s fireplace and dance under that amazing chandelier!
Everywhere you look, there are beautiful little details, significantly placed to make the village feel homely and “lived-in”. You can really see the love and care that went into creating the setting, and I actually left a little sad that it wasn’t a real place!
Towards the end of our tour, we headed off in the direction of the Green Dragon pub, ready to enjoy a complementary beverage. Our journey past the hobbit holes, over a quaint little stone bridge and through farmer’s fields was so idyllic, and was only topped when we eventually reached our destination.
Stepping through the door of the Green Dragon, it felt as though we had been transported into a tavern in the Middle Ages. The doors, windows, even the shelves and bookcases were all lovingly carved from wood with astonishing detail, and reinforced with intricate metalwork.
The huge roaring fire in the heart of the pub was just what we needed after our long walk out in the cold and damp. We snuggled up nearby with our ginger ale and a warm cheese scone, and daydreamed of living in the Shire.
Our tour guide eventually managed to pry us, unwillingly, out of the door into the chilly spring air to finish the final part of our tour. Looking out across the water to the old stone bridge and thatched roof buildings, we could easily have been in a small rural village back in England.
As people who enjoy the LoTR trilogy, and love all things quaint and rustic, this place was right up our street. In fact, I was pretty much ready to move in! We’d highly recommend it to anyone considering doing the tour, if nothing else just to enjoy the atmosphere and to experience the incredible levels of care and detail that has gone into building this place. If you love it as much as we did, the tour guide mentioned that they do hire it out for parties and weddings, although they have drawn the line at funerals apparently!
Don’t forget to have a look at our vlog below (which also includes the Waitomo Glowworm Caves which I have written about here).
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